A former Liberal Democrat MP who was accused of sexual assault by a constituent has issued an apology for making her feel “degraded” and “uncomfortable” while he carried out an “inappropriate and unprofessional” relationship with her.
But Mike Hancock, the MP for Portsmouth South, has yet to indicate any intention to quite parliament over the issue. Unless he changes his mind, Hancock will continue to receive his salary and expenses until the 2015 general election.
Hancock, a longstanding Liberal Democrat, resigned the party whip in 2013 due to the legal proceedings. The Lib Dems will now have to decide whether to permanently expel him from the party.
The MP made a formal apology as part of a high court settlement that ends a legal fight that lasted almost five years.
Hancock does not admit sexual assault in his apology but admits he “crossed the line” with the female constituent after visiting her house following a complaint about noisy neighbours. Until now he had always denied all wrongdoing.
The apology also states that the MP is currently being treated in the Priory Hospital. He is understood to be suffering from depression.
In 2010 the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring criminal proceedings over the case but Hancock’s constituent, known only as “Annie”, pursued the case using civil proceedings.
3. Read Mike Hancock’s apology to his constituent in full:
“In October 2009 you first came to me as a constituent to seek my assistance as your MP and councillor. Subsequently and over several months I came to your home on several occasions, sometimes unannounced, and conducted a friendship with you that was inappropriate and unprofessional. I understand that you felt degraded. I did not treat you with sufficient respect. I made you feel deeply uncomfortable and discriminated against, and I crossed the line.
“As a political representative, there is a significant power differential with any constituent seeking help and particularly with you given your vulnerability, of which I was aware. You had a right to trust me. Everyone should feel safe and should be able to have confidence in their political representatives and I am sorry that I made you feel otherwise. I have learnt from my mistake and pledge no to act in the same way again.
“There are no words that can take back the way that I made you feel. I can only apologise unreservedly to you for any distress, anger and worsening of your psychiatric condition that I caused. I acknowledge also that your son has been affected by the distress caused to you. I also recognise that hurtful and untrue statements were made publicly about your motivation in bringing the claim. These statements sought to discredit and undermine you. This never should have happened. I accept that you did not bring the claim for financial gain and any statements made to the contrary were wrong. I also acknowledge that you have fought for many years to hold me to account, and that this should have been resolved far sooner. I myself would have wished for it to be resolved far earlier and I am sorry that it wasn’t.
“I express my deep regret to you and to your son for any harm my conduct has caused you. It was never my intention to cause either of you any harm.”